Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Run For Your LIfe

My wife sent me a most amusing story about zombies the other day. It described a game of zombies versus humans played out on a college campus. It was the author's belief that this game was a win for the real world over the virtual. It was a game won by cunning and speed, not super-strong thumbs or the ability to program in cheat codes. It was, as most of the best games of my youth, a matter of life and death.
In my neighborhood, the game was "Gunner." We played most evenings from the time we got home from school until dinner, and if the light permitted, even after. One person, usually me since it was easier to volunteer and get the game going than waiting for one-potato-two-potato to sort things out, would get a toy gun from the barrel of armaments in my friend's garage. While that selection was being made, the rest of the kids would scatter. Depending on the size of the group and our own feeling of adventure, boundaries could range between a few back yards or the entire block. When the Gunner emerged, armed and ready to hunt, his job was to "shoot" anyone he saw. They were to die honorably on the spot, and lay there until someone else who was alive came by and tagged them, bringing them back to life and ready to play. The Gunner won only when he was able to snuff out every living kid in sight and out until there was only the cool breeze and the smoke from the muzzle to keep him company.
There were plenty of arguments with corpses about how the Gunner could possibly shoot around corners, or the relative accuracy of an eleven-year-old firing on a dead run, but for the most part the victims were all pretty good sports. Probably because they assumed that their mortality was only a matter of waiting for their friend to come out from behind the hedge and zap them back into existence. Unless the Gunner in question happened to be laying in wait for those foolish enough to fall prey to his ambush.
I got quite a reputation over the years. Eventually, the other kids in the neighborhood whined and complained if I offered to be Gunner. They preferred my younger brother, or someone less wily than myself. Even though we were playing a game that was, at its heart, freeze tag, there was still more than a little danger associated with it. To be the last man standing: it was a heady thing.
Every so often, I watch my son and his buddies haul out his Nerf gun arsenal and fire foam darts at each other for minutes at a time. Sooner or later, one of them comes up with the logical alternative of the Wii version. Why chase around in the streets when we could be doing this from the comfort and safety of the living room couch. My parental brain splits down the middle: video games bad, kids shooting at pretend remotes instead of each other good. With this weighty ambivalence, I watch the hour pass before they ask me for more time, and I suggest they could play outside some more. The pained expression on their faces tells me how much things have changed since I was a kid. And one heck of a Gunner.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When Wiis are outlawed, only outlaws will have Wiis.